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NCAA report details academic success

John-Paul Witt | Monday, April 30, 2007

Notre Dame is recognized for its academics and its athletics, and Notre Dame student-athletes have demonstrated again that they are not mutually exclusive attributes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released its Annual Progress Report for U.S colleges this week and Notre Dame athletes have once again ranked high in academic excellence when compared to peer institutions.

Eleven Notre Dame teams were honored for academic distinction – men’s basketball, men’s cross country, men’s fencing, men’s golf, men’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, women’s fencing, women’s soccer, women’s softball, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball.

Only the U.S. Naval Academy, Boston College and Stanford had more teams honored for academic performance – Duke University and Rice University also had eleven programs honored.

This isn’t unusual for Notre Dame, said Senior Associate Athletics Director John Heisler.

“Generally, this is where we fit in almost any of the measurements – we’ve been up among the leaders,” Heisler said.

According to a 2006 NCAA report, seven men’s teams and seven women’s teams from Notre Dame have – in the last several years – scored perfect 1000s on the Academic Progress Rate, a measure of whether students meet NCAA academic goals.

Notre Dame athletes perform exceptionally well academically when compared to their peers due to the “general commitment of the University” to academics, Heisler said.

“This speaks to the way in which our coaches go about supporting the commitment to academics,” Heisler said, “[Academics Services for Student Athletes Director] Pat Holmes and the Academic Services division have a lot to do with that as well.”

Notre Dame football was not one of the sports honored for academic excellence, despite senior John Carlson being named to ESPN The Magazine’s first-team Academic All-America with a 3.59 GPA.

However, Heisler noted that the football team has improved its collective academic standing in the past two years. He said players have posted the “highest GPAs in the history of the program” in that time.

The students themselves deserve the most credit, Heisler said, with their “commitment to being successful academically.”

“You don’t come to Notre Dame to cut corners,” Heisler said. “From a recruiting standpoint … if you don’t have an interest in academics, Notre Dame’s not going to be a place for you.”

Notre Dame also possesses a high retention rate and a “complete lack of attrition” for student athletes, Heisler said.

“If you’re here for four years, the odds of your receiving a degree are hugely high in your favor,” Heisler said. “We don’t lose people from an academic standpoint. The University takes great pride in that.”